Frequently Asked Questions about the Loess Hills

 

Didn’t the National Park Service decide not to make the Loess Hills a national park?

Yes, but they also encouraged the creation of a board to prepare a comprehensive plan. We are trying to get 12 special landscape areas into National Natural Reserve status.  The National Park Service will help with that.

Hasn’t the state of Iowa set aside money to preserve the hills?

Three years ago the Loess Hills Alliance budget was cut to $0.  The last two years the budget has been $200,000; a far cry from the millions of dollars needed to save native prairies which are likely to disappear during this decade of the Lewis and Clark commemoration.  The budget passed by the House on June 8 cuts the Loess Hills alliance to $115,000.

Isn’t Neal Smith and other prairie reconstructions as good as native prairie?

No, it will take thousands of years to recreate the biological diversity in a native prairie (which has been growing here since the last ice age).  A reconstruction might see 50 different species of plants and animals.  A native prairie would have four to five times that many.  The soil under native prairie also contains microbes, etc., that create a healthy soil—prairie ecosystems created the deepest topsoil in the world—Iowa topsoil.

Haven’t efforts to stop erosion been successful?

Loess Hills soil that is in row crops will erode at a very high rate, 40 tons per year in some cases.  Money has been put into some erosion control efforts but erosion is still occurring at a high rate.

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